–several groups submit symbols to contest elections
MANY political parties, voluntary groups and individual candidates from all across Guyana made a last minute dash to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday to submit their applications for approval of symbols to contest the much anticipated local government elections (LGE). Submissions were also made through the Returning Officers for the respective municipalities and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).
It is suspected that a number of these submissions have been made to the Commission. GECOM Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield told the Guyana Chronicle that his officers are at this time still doing tabulation.
Yesterday was the deadline for submissions. Applicants are required by law to submit their symbols for approval by GECOM not later than 21 days before Nomination Day for elections. With Government setting March 18, 2016 for the holding of the LGE, Nomination Day has been set at Tuesday, January 26.
President David Granger had said that the APNU+AFC coalition will be contesting all aspects of the March 2016 election. Speaking to journalists last Thursday on his weekly programme, ‘The Public Interest’, President Granger said, “We have resolved to go into local government elections as a coalition. We created a movement on the 11th May which was accepted by the general public, and this is the form of government they want to see. We will take it to local government elections, not just keep it as a device for general and regional elections. We introduced it because we believe in inclusionary democracy, and we believe in inclusionary democracy as a useful tool for democracy.
“The APNU+AFC will be going into LGE as a coalition,” President Granger affirmed while responding to questions posed by the panel of two journalists.
He added: “What we have determined is that, as far as possible, we will allow the local residents to decide how they’d like to contest the elections…but, generally, we will be contesting neighbourhoods and municipalities as a coalition. That is our general position.”
Well known social activist Mark Benschop has also signalled his intention to contest the elections.
According to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), in compliance with Article 71 of the Constitution, Local Authority Areas, comprising six municipalities or towns and 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), have been established in Guyana.
The two primary objectives of local government are to enable democratic local decision-making and action by and on behalf of communities; and to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities.
Some of the key goals of the LGE are to improve the local environment; provide and develop local open spaces and recreational facilities; set strategic policy directions; and prepare annual plans, budgets and long-term council community plans.
Local government elections are being held after more than two decades since last being held. It was originally scheduled to be held in 1997 after the last elections in 1994, but had been continuously delayed by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) — which was in office for 23 years before being defeated by the APNU+AFC Coalition at the last General and Regional Elections.